Here’s what people facing food insecurity want you to know about solving the hunger problem in America
Even though America is the world’s wealthiest nation, about 1 in 6 of our neighbors turned to food banks and community programs in order to feed themselves and their families last year. Think about it: More than 9 million children faced hunger in 2021 (1 in 8 children).
In order to solve a problem, we must first understand it. Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, released its second annual Elevating Voices: Insights Report and turned to the experts—people experiencing hunger—to find out how this issue can be solved once and for all.
Here are the four most important things people facing hunger want you to know.
Hunger is still an urgent crisis despite signs of economic recovery. In the months following the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, headlines report that the nation’s economic health is bouncing back after years of hardship. However, a big chunk of our population is experiencing a different reality. Recovery has been uneven nationwide, and grocery prices are still higher than normal despite easing supply chain issues. With the end of the federal support offered throughout the pandemic, child poverty rates have shot up, and families like Donnette McManus’ are feeling the squeeze.
“Even though you have your list, you have your budget, things are changing so quickly. Your salary can’t keep up. So, you get to the store with the same exact list, the same 10 items can cost you 50% more,” said McManus, who lives in Massachusetts.
Feeding America Insights Report
People facing hunger say that ending food insecurity is about more than just food. Ending hunger may sound like a simple task: make sure everyone, regardless of who they are and where they live, has access to the food they need. However, as neighbor-advocate Jennifer Estrada of Wisconsin pointed out, the reality is a bit more complex, especially considering that hunger is only a symptom of bigger economic challenges.
“As much as you work, the system is set up for you to continue in a cycle of food insecurity,” said Estrada. “Your whole check goes to a rent payment if you’re not fortunate enough to own a house, with nothing leftover. But you get kicked off if you make $2 more. There needs to be some security, there needs to be a revamping of the whole system ... It seems like instead of creating less barriers to help the families in our community, it seems like policies and procedures continue to make more barriers.”
One of the biggest takeaways from the 2023Insights Report is that housing is unaffordable. Working 40+ hours a week still isn’t enough to get by for many folks. Stopping hunger in its tracks is as much about strengthening economic well-being as it is about providing equitable access to enough nourishing food.
Hunger is an issue that intersects with more than what we put on our plates. Hunger strikes without discrimination, affecting anyone, anywhere, at any time. Millions of people in the U.S. are just one job loss, missed paycheck, or medical emergency away from experiencing food insecurity. Due to a long history of racism, discrimination, and oppression in our country, hunger impacts some communities more than others, including communities of color and communities in rural areas.
While the impact of hunger is widespread, people facing it note that the stigma associated with it can strip people of their dignity or deter them from accessing the food assistance programs they’re eligible for and need. There are also inequitable systems in place that do not work for everyone.
“Your basic clerk at your local DHS [Department of Human Services] office is only employed to input information and output information back to you. A lot of times, you feel like you’re not even a human. You’re just a number to them. And if I’m just going to be a number to you, I have a mental meltdown,” said Kimberly Harris, a resident of Washington, D.C.
Feeding America Insights Report
Ending food insecurity requires a catalyzing movement. While hunger remains a widespread and persistent problem, our country already has the tools to eradicate it forever—they just need to be utilized. Most people facing hunger said that federal and local governments should treat hunger as an urgent crisis—signaling that it will take all of us to bring hunger to a halt.
So how can you take action right now? Do your part and visit FeedingAmerica.org/ElevatingVoices to read the 2023 Elevating Voices: Insights Report and sign a petition to encourage Congress to pass legislation that will help ensure no one in America goes hungry. Let’s all pitch in to make the wealthiest nation become the happiest and most prosperous—for all.
A quick trip to the vet confirmed the cats' and family's suspicions.
It's not a secret that nearly all golden retrievers are identical. Honestly, magic has to be involved for owners to know which one belongs to them when more than one golden retriever is around. Seriously, how do they all seem have the same face? It's like someone fell asleep on the copy machine when they were being created.
Outside of collars, harnesses and bandanas, immediately identifying the dog that belongs to you has to be a secret skill because at first glance, their personalities are also super similar. That's why it's not surprising when one family dropped off their sweet golden pooch at daycare and to be groomed, they didn't notice the daycare sent out the wrong dog.
See, not even their human parents can tell them apart because when the swapped dog got home, nothing seemed odd to the owners at first. She was freshly groomed so any small differences were quickly brushed off. But this accidental doppelgänger wasn't fooling her feline siblings.
Once the dog was in their house, they noticed that their cats started behaving strangely towards their canine sibling. The cats started attacking the dog, likely trying to get it to tell them what they did with their real dog sister. Cat slaps and a house full of strange people didn't dampen the imposter's spirit though, in fact, that's what helped reveal the switcharoo.
This dog kept handing out face kisses and had no interest in seeing her favorite neighbor. After putting all of those things together, the owners decided to hightail it to the vet's office to scan the dog's microchip. Alas, they indeed had the wrong dog.
"We just never even thought that that would happen, and of course we thought we would know right? Like we're her parents, we would know something was wrong, we would know right off the bat that it wasn't Emmy," Kebby Kelley told Fox 9 Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Seems both golden retrievers got to go on a really strange adventure that deserves a lifetime of delicious dog treats for the confusion.
See both sweet pups below:
Overachievers can struggle with mental health issues, too.
I first saw a psychiatrist for my anxiety and depression as a junior in high school.
During her evaluation, she asked about my coursework. I told her that I had a 4.0 GPA and had filled my schedule with pre-AP and AP classes. A puzzled look crossed her face. She asked about my involvement in extracurricular activities. As I rattled off the long list of groups and organizations I was a part of, her frown creased further.
Finally, she set down her pen and looked at me, saying something along the lines of "You seem to be pretty high-functioning, but your anxiety and depression seem pretty severe. Actually, it's teens like you who scare me a lot."
Now I was confused. What was scary about my condition? From the outside, I was functioning like a perfectly "normal" teenager. In fact, I was somewhat of an overachiever.
I was working through my mental illnesses and I was succeeding, so what was the problem?
I left that appointment with a prescription for Lexapro and a question that I would continue to think about for years. The answer didn't hit me all at once.
Instead, it came to me every time I heard a suicide story on the news saying, "By all accounts, they were living the perfect life."
It came to me as I crumbled under pressure over and over again, doing the bare minimum I could to still meet my definition of success.
It came to me as I began to share my story and my illness with others, and I was met with reactions of "I had no idea" and "I never would have known." It's easy to put depression into a box of symptoms.
Even though we're often told that mental illness comes in all shapes and sizes, I think we're still stuck with certain "stock images" of mental health in our heads.
When we see depression and anxiety in adolescents, we see teens struggling to get by in their day-to-day lives. We see grades dropping, and we see involvement replaced by isolation. But it doesn't always look like this.
And when we limit our idea of mental illness, at-risk people slip through the cracks.
We don't see the student with the 4.0 GPA or the student who's active in choir and theater or a member of the National Honor Society or the ambitious teen who takes on leadership roles in a religious youth group.
No matter how many times we are reminded that mental illness doesn't discriminate, we revert back to a narrow idea of how it should manifest, and that is dangerous.
Recognizing this danger is what helped me find the answer to my question.
Watching person after person — myself included — slip under the radar of the "depression detector" made me realize where that fear comes from. My psychiatrist knew the list of symptoms, and she knew I didn't necessarily fit them. She understood it was the reason that, though my struggles with mental illness began at age 12, I didn't come to see her until I was 16.
If we keep allowing our perception of what mental illness looks like to dictate how we go about recognizing and treating it, we will continue to overlook people who don't fit the mold.
We cannot keep forgetting that there are people out there who, though they may not be able to check off every symptom on the list, are heavily and negatively affected by their mental illness. If we forget, we allow their struggle to continue unnoticed, and that is pretty scary.
This article originally appeared on 06.03.16
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What exactly are "girl" chores, anyway?
A 41-year-old mom with 3 boys, 12-year-old twins, and a 10-year-old, pays them $10 daily to do their chores. However, their pay is deducted $10 if they miss a day. The boys have to do their tasks 5 days a week, although it doesn’t matter which days they choose to work.
“This system has worked swimmingly for us since it started, the boys have always complied with completing their chores,” the mom wrote on Reddit.
Her 12-year-old son was getting ready to play Fortnite with a friend and told him he’d be ready in 15 minutes once he finished his chores. When the boys started playing the game, he told the friend he was in charge of dusting and sweeping the stairs, to which the friend responded, “It’s a good thing my parents don’t make me do girl chores.”
After learning what the friend said, the mom told her son that chores are genderless.
“I spoke with my son and explained to him that knowing how to clean was not specific to any gender, that it was a life skill everyone needed to know. I also told him that I understood that other families functioned differently; however, in our family, everyone did an equal share,” she wrote.
Over the next 3 days, the boy refused to do his “girl” chores. So, when allowance day came, the two brothers who did theirs received $50, but the 12-year-old who refused only got $20. The mom and the boy's father are divorced, so the 12-year-old called his dad to complain that he got $30 less, and the dad took his side.
“My ex-husband then proceeded to call me and tell me that I’m in the wrong for only giving him $20 and to imagine how it makes him feel that his brothers got more than he did. I explained to him that our other sons actually did their chores for all 5 days, so they were rewarded accordingly,” the mother wrote. “And assured him that if he had decided to start giving the boys an allowance, then he can run allowance however he wanted, but this was ultimately the system I had come up with.”
She added that her husband said she is being “insensitive” and “humiliating” their son.
The mom asked Reddit’s AITA subforum if she was in the wrong, and the commenters unanimously agreed that she was right. Other commenters noted that she made a smart decision leaving her ex-husband because he took the side of his child, who refused to do work for sexist reasons.
The only problem the commenters had was that the mom was being a little too generous by giving them $50 a week. That’s $600 a month for 3 kids.
"It’s the real world, you don’t do your job, you don’t get paid, and I actually think $10 a day is pretty generous for allowance," Longjumping-Gur-6581 wrote. "$10/day is insane for that age,” fIumpf added.
“You’re not taking money out of your son’s allowance, you’re not paying him for services not rendered,” Excitedorca wrote. “The sexist, misogynistic reasons behind not completing the chores need to be corrected and that won’t happen by rewarding it.”
Who knows the most about school? Students.
This is not news: America does pretty badly when it goes up against other countries academically.
This is true even if we take it one state at a time—no single state, no matter how wealthy or small, matches the top scoring countries. And yet, the U.S. spends more per student than many other countries in the world.
In the image at the top, each state is mapped to a country that had similar scores on the Program for International Student Assessment, an international test of mathematical reasoning given to 15-year-olds. The top 15 countries are in purple. No, there isn't any purple on this map.
Reporter Amanda Ripley wanted to figure out why U.S. education outcomes are so mediocre.
She started asking random people what they thought and she followed up on their ideas. The same theories came up over and over: People blamed poverty and diversity for the difference between U.S. students and students everywhere else. But when Ripley dug into the numbers, she discovered that, while those are factors, they don't fully explain the difference.
No adult could give her a satisfactory answer, so she went to the experts: kids.
Kids spend more time in school than anyone. They've got strong opinions about school. They have opinions on what is working.
She talked to the only students who could have firsthand knowledge of the differences between schools in top-performing countries and those in the U.S.: American kids who were exchange students in those countries.
She surveyed hundreds of exchange students and found three major points that they all agreed on.
The students all said that in their host countries:
- School is harder. There's less homework but the material is more rigorous. People take education more seriously, from selecting the content to selecting the teachers.
- Sports are just a hobby. In the U.S., sports are a huge distraction from the business of school, but that's not the case in other countries.
- Kids believe there's something in it for them. The students in other countries deeply believe that what they are doing in school affects how interesting their lives were going to be. Even if they don't like a class, they see their education as a stepping stone to their future.
To hear more from these amazing kids (and a great story about how an education reporter managed to take an international standardized test), check out the video from PopTech below:
This article originally appeared on 05.22.15
The series combines humor and playful drawings with spot-on depictions of the intense familiarity that long-standing coupledom often brings.
"It was all his idea."
An offhand suggestion from her boyfriend of two years coupled with her own lifelong love of comic strips like "Calvin and Hobbes" and "Get Fuzzy" gave 22-year-old Catana Chetwynd the push she needed to start drawing an illustrated series about long-term relationships.
Specifically, her own relationship.
The drawings are refreshingly touching, honest, and instantly recognizable to anyone who's ever had to learn to live with, for, and around a long-term partner.
Chetwynd says her goal is to explore the peculiar aspects of relationships at different stages, using her own as the master template.
The series combines humor and playful drawings with spot-on depictions of the intense familiarity that long-standing coupledom often brings.
The comics are almost too real — and really, really funny.
If the following comics capture your relationship to a T, you're most definitely not alone.
(All images by Catana Chetwynd.)
"When I started doing the comic, we hadn't lived together or anything yet, and now we've done the whole thing of moving in together and meeting the parents and everything," Chetwynd says.
The evolution of their relationship provides the creative fuel for the comic strip. Thankfully, her boyfriend John Freed is fully on board with being depicted in (digital) ink — despite having to occasionally awkwardly explain things that appear in the strip to their family and friends.
The connection she has built with Freed, Chetwynd says she wouldn't trade for anything — especially now that it inspires her art.
"The end goal for me was always to have somebody that I could be comfortable with in this way, and I think I got that."
This article originally appeared on 05.12.17.
Did she go too far?
A 29-year-old woman had a baby girl, and after a brief maternity leave, she had to return to work. She couldn't afford childcare, so her husband, 35, reluctantly agreed to watch the baby while she was at work.
“It’s important to know that he’s been unemployed since 2021,” the woman wrote on Reddit’s AITA subforum. “He receives benefits. It’s also important to know that he’s extremely lazy. He doesn’t cook, clean, or help out in any way. I was nervous about leaving her home with her father, but I had no choice.”
The mother had reason to be worried about leaving her baby home alone with her husband, but in the beginning, things seemed fine. “When I came back from work, she was clean and sleeping. The next few times I came home, he was either playing with her, feeding her, or out for a walk with her. I was happy,” she wrote.
The mother thought things looked nice on the surface, but they weren’t as they seemed.
“A few days ago, my neighbor told me that as soon as I leave, the baby cries, and she cries for hours,” the mother wrote. “My neighbor said that she knocked on our door, and he finally answered it. He was sleeping. I concluded that he sleeps all day and right. Before I come home, he pretends to care for her.”
The mother hatched an elaborate plan to see if he was watching the baby or sleeping all day.
“I decided to take the day off of work. I left home at my regular time,” she wrote. “I waited 30 minutes and then went home. Sure enough, he was knocked out, sleeping with his stupid noise-canceling headphones on. I went to my daughter's room, scooped her up, and took her to my friend's house.”
Two hours later, she called her husband and said she was coming home. He was frantic because he couldn’t find the child and almost called the police. The wife then explained to her husband that she had taken the baby while he was asleep. When she got home his mother was there “calming his nerves,” and they both had strong words for the wife.
The husband went to live at his mother’s house, and their family members have been telling the wife that she’s a “terrible” person. She admits that her tactics may have been a bit “extreme” but doesn’t think she’s in the wrong.
Her husband was obviously neglectful and putting the baby in extreme danger, so it was commendable that the mom saw the situation for herself and took the baby to a safe place. However, the situation could have gotten worse if her husband had called the police and reported the kidnapping.
It probably would have been best if she had caught the husband sleeping and called him out for neglect instead of escalating the situation with a fake kidnapping. After the incident, the mother left her husband, took the baby to live with a friend, and is considering pressing charges against him.
The commenters on the Reddit thread overwhelmingly believed that the wife did the right thing by catching the husband in the act and leaving him.
"FYI, this isn't just a leave your husband because he sucks. You need to leave him before you loose your child. Neglect is abuse. Your neighbor was nice and called you instead of CPS. But if you stay with your husband they can take your child from you as well," mandytheratmom wrote. "So you managed to get inside the house and grab your child and he never noticed you? What if something happened to your kid while he had his noise-canceling headphones?!" Elderberryown666 added.
The mother responded to the repeated calls to leave her husband with a simple remark that sums up the whole story: "I’m done with him. He’s waiting for an apology."